(Everyone out shopping? Yeah, I thought so…)
Ah, the holiday season. What better way to spend the end of the year, than in spiritual reflection, decorating trees, buying perfect presents for loved ones, sending out cheery holiday cards and newsletters, drinking champagne and eating fabulous little cookies, indulging in the free DVDs that the evil corporations continue to send striking screenwriters because force majeure be damned, the Oscars must go on…)
This Holiday season, if I don’t do at the very least five pages a day WITHOUT FAIL I will not make the deadline of my next book. Not even Christmas Day off for me.
(Michael says – “How long are you going to keep doing this to yourself? “ But how am I doing this to myself? Nobody tells a grocery store clerk or a bank manager or postal worker – “Oh, you don’t have to work today. Why do that to yourself? Let’s go see a movie.” Well, actually, people probably DO say that, but if such advice is actually followed, the result is dismissal and disgrace and homelessness).
Now, in some ways it’s not such a loss, for me. For one thing, I’m not actually a Christian, and I don’t have children that I need to halt everything for, and my family is very laid back about all holidays in general, and I hate malls, and as long as we see Sweeney Todd this weekend, Michael’s not going to complain too much (mostly because I can keep him quiet with all the free DVDs). I must say it’s annoying to have to do the more obligatory Christmas things without getting the benefit of time off from work like everyone else, but I knew this job was dangerous when I took it.
But there is one part of the holiday season that I can celebrate at the same time that I’m doing my pages, and that doesn’t grate on me because I’m missing out on all the fun. And that’s today. It’s Winter Solstice.
As we all probably know, technically, the solstice is the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s the longest night and the shortest day of the year.
We also all probably have heard that ritual celebrations practiced at Christmas go back to pre-Christian times, and we’ve co-opted many solstice traditions (like Yule logs and Christmas trees and the lighting of candles and the birth of the sun – or son) for Christmas. The celebration of solstice extends across pretty much every culture.
But I particularly like the magic aspect of solstice. In pagan tradition, the year is divided into quarters, and the two solstices and the two Equinoxes are the most powerful times of the whole year. Whatever you do during these times gets a certain extra push from the universe. I find that invariably to be true. Your dreams are more powerful, money arrives in the mail, you solve that problem in Chapter 10.
Seriously. For authors, for example, this is a fabulous time to write – your productivity is through the roof. I didn’t just get some kick-ass pages done on my book in the last few days – I also have been cranking the pages out on the novella I’ve been putting off because of panic about the book. Every research book I’ve picked up has been THE EXACT BOOK with the EXACT information I needed to move to the next chapter. I just feel stronger and more capable about everything.
Running around buying gifts is one thing, fine, but the days just before and just after Solstice will invariably turn up some real gifts, cosmic gifts. Pay attention and see what shows up for you, and if you feel like it, share.
I wish everyone Happy Christmas and everything else that you celebrate, but especially this year, an extra Solstice something for all.
Now, back to work.
Or, you know – shopping.